Manchester: The mother of all battles on Father’s Day, despite intermittently hit by rain, ended with Indian fans dancing in the stands, waving their flags and singing songs in praise of their heroes that ensured them their seventh successive victory over Pakistan in a World Cup. This extended Pakistan’s jinx of never being able to beat India in a World Cup match.
Rain was forecast for this match, but it was raining runs for India as they sank their arch-rivals Pakistan by dominating the contest right from the start and winning by 89 runs at the Old Trafford ground through Duckworth/Lewis Method.
Though rain did not allow the match to be held in its entirety, India had virtually pushed Pakistan to the brink of a huge defeat with Pakistan tottering at 166 for 6 in 35 overs needing 171 runs in the next 15 overs when play was stopped due to rain. With all their senior batsmen back in the dressing room, and the need to score 136 runs in five overs, as per the revised calculations. Pakistan could muster only 212 for 6 in 40 overs chasing India’s 336 for 5 in 50 overs.
The hero of the match was India’s Rohit Sharma, who cracked a majestic 140 to launch the run spree. It was his 24th hundred, second in this tournament as well as against Pakistan, and that set the stage for a mammoth 336 for 5, which is the highest total against Pakistan in England and highest ODI total on this ground.
Sharma laid the foundation of the big total with Lokesh Rahul (57), who opened the innings in place of an injured Shikhar Dhawan, and put on a 136-run opening partnership in 23.5 overs.
Sharma also added 98 runs in 14.3 overs with his skipper Virat Kohli for the second wicket. Kohli cracked his 51st half century in 51 balls and also went past 11,000-run mark in ODI cricket and become the fastest batsman to reach that mark. Kohli also put on a quick 51 runs in 5.2 overs with Hardik Pandya, who hit 26 runs off 19 balls. Kohli cracked 77 off 65 balls.
If not for left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, who bowled brilliantly to bag 3 for 47, India may have posted over 350 runs. Though rain stopped play when India was 305 for 4, the match resumed without any overs being reduced.
The enthusiastic cricket fans, who had arrived early in the chilly weather, were rewarded with a full-day’s match despite the forecast of rains after noon.
Pakistan needed a good start though the task ahead was indeed Herculean. The opening pair added just 13 runs before Vijay Shankar, who was called into complete a hamstring injury hit Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s over, trapped Imam-ul-Haq leg before.
Haq seemed to have looked at the bowler than the ball and missed a straight one. Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman lit up hopes in the minds of the dejected Pakistan fans who had few moments to cheer in the morning through a 104-run partnership in 19.1 overs. In the 24th over Kuldeep Yadav clean bowled Azam two runs short of his half century.
Zaman, who looked all set for a century, swept Yadav to Yuzvendra Chahal for 62. This was followed by Pakistan’s two experienced batsmen failing to carry the momentum. Mohammad Hafeez lasted just seven balls before playing a flick, which was not expected of such an experience player, into the hands of Shankar off Pandya. Pandya clean bowled an out-of-form Shoaib Malek with the next ball for his second successive duck to virtually hand over to match to India.
Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmad and Imad Wasim fought hard but to lift a team, which had slipped from 117 for 1 to 129 for 5 was a mammoth task. Sarfaraz, after adding 36 runs in 7.1 overs with Imad Wasim, played Shankar on to his wicket for 12. Shankar who found a place in the eleven due to Dhawan’s injury returned with figures of 2 for 22 from 5.2 overs while Pandya and Yadav chipped in with two wickets each.
It was a treat for the Indian fans in the manner in which the Indian batsmen took control over the match. The opening pair recorded their 50-runs partnership in 10 overs with Sharma reaching his half century off just 34 balls. Kohli enthralled the fans with his wide repertoire of strokes. Ultimately Indian fans returned happy with the all-round treat from their stars, and India strengthened their chances of reaching the semi-finals.